Sometimes a project can be like a pot of great marinara sauce- it can’t be rushed. Give it time to simmer, and you’ll come away with something memorable. I’ve been working on a project like that this week.
I don’t think I’ve shared this exciting news with you yet… I’m SO honored (beyond words, really) to be working with the Denver Art Museum on their upcoming textiles exhibition, Spun, which will be coming to the museum May 19-Sept 22, 2013. In addition to some live quilting demonstrations and a community involvement project, I’m also sewing a few samples for display in one of their permanent exhibits….a VERY intimidating/thrilling task, to say the least. Anyway, one of the pieces they asked me to make is a personal inspiration piece using a non-traditional quilting fabric, so I chose to use some WWII military parachute fabric that my grandfather brought home from France after D-Day in 1945.
My grandfather was a US Army sergeant who served for 4.5 years, and was in the 3rd wave of men who landed via boat on Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944, during the Allied invasion of German-occupied France. He was always such a hands-on, detailed-oriented man. Spent his entire life as an engineer, designing kitchen appliances, making intricate working clocks of every shape and size, tinkering with old cars and tractors, and even designing and building the modest midwest home he would raise his family in. So it was no surprise to me when I learned that his role in the war was repairing broken-down Jeeps that had been damaged by enemy fire. He always was Mr. Fix-It. Never a problem he couldn’t solve, with some thoughtfulness, and whole lot of tinkering. “Can’t never did anything” was the motto he repeated, time and time again.
It also was no surprise then, that such a thoughtful man, focused on the little details, and on frugality and preparedness, at just 25 years old and serving amidst horrors and heartache that I can’t begin to fathom…that this man thought to purchase yards and yards of gorgeous silky nylon cream material, literally, parachute fabric, knowing his future bride would certainly need something to sew a wedding gown from. He hadn’t even met her yet, but already he was thinking of her, and ways he could provide for her.
I’d been mulling this piece around in my head for weeks (not to mention the fabric itself…tried to build the nerve to cut into it for years) , but it wasn’t until QuiltCon in Penny Layman’s class on advanced foundation paper piecing design, that the wheels of inspiration really started turning.
So I decided that this piece was going to use this special fabric to make another dress- a dress to honor my grandfather- his service, his dreams, his thoughtful, frugal, simple way of life that I can only hope carries on in some way through me. And also to honor their marriage- 60 years, til death did they part. A marriage worthy of emulation.
I chose the red vintage pin dots because his division was called “The Big Red One.” And the borders came from a bundle I curated for Sew Lux Fabrics this month called “Rue Charlot”- a soft gathering of classic prints that remind me of Paris in early Spring. When my husband and I vacationed there, forever ago it seems, we stayed in a little private garden flat on a street called Rue Charlot. If you’re interested in this bundle, you can pick one up here.
What a special piece this turned out to be. One of those projects, that if given enough time and “simmering,” somehow manages to design itself. Thanks Grandpa :) This one’s for you.